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tv   RAF  BBC News  July 8, 2018 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc world news, the headlines. at the football world cup, england and croatia have reached the semi—finals. russia twice came back from behind but croatia won 4—3 in a penalty shoot—out. croatia will now play englandwho earlier beat sweden 2—0. the first semi—final match will pit france against neighbours belgium. north korea has announced that it may abandon plans to give up its nuclear technology if the united states continues to demand unilateral denuclearisation by pyongyang. a government spokesman said the stance taken by us negotiators was gangster—like. he said both sides should take steps at the same time. the 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave system in thailand have sent handwritten letters to their families, to reassure them that they are well. their football coach, who is with them, also sent a note apologising to their parents. the team were cut off when exploring the cave two weeks ago. now on bbc news sophie raworth finds out what life was like for the first raf pilots.
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this is stow maries, the last world war i aerodrome left in europe. young pilots flew from here to confront the giant german airships that were crossing the channel to attack london. it was the first time that airpower had been used in warfare. so, what was it like for those pioneering pilots and their tiny aircraft, like this one, who were fighting in the skies above britain, france and belgium? among them was a teenager who joined the royal flying corps in 1916. his name was edwin raworth, and he was my grandfather. they got in the aircraft knowing that there was a better than likely chance they weren't coming back. for a new pilot, the life expectancy could be between 11 and 17 days.
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some people survived and did it all over again. just terrifying, terrifying. until very recently, i never knew my grandfather had been a pilot in world war i. and then my father told me to look inside a dusty old suitcase in their cellar. it's really heavy. my goodness. it is so heavy. incredible. look at that, it's got his initials on it. elr. oh, my goodness. look at that. wow. look at all this stuff, photographs, a cat. a cat. look at that, it's beautiful. that's his royal flying corps hat. it's the cap that my
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grandfather was wearing when he posed with fellow pilots for the only photo we have from his short flying career. we've now got all this extraordinary stuff which, when you look at it, is incredible. it is. about 100 years old. what did you think when you found all of this? i was astonished. first i was astonished by the weight of the case. and then also, i mean, these things here. the cap is obvious, that he wore that. and the cat, we knew somehow that he had that for good luck. i love this cat. i find that extraordinary. that is absolutely beautiful. it's100 years old, this cat, isn't it? yes. and do we know, did he carry it in the aircraft with him? yes. did he? he flew with a cat for luck. and he was lucky because he was one of the pilots who did come back alive. he did.
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how much did grandpa tell you about what he did in world war i? very little indeed. he never really spoke about it at all. i'm immensely proud of him, even though he was very secretive about what he did, and i think i would love to know more about what he did, how he did it. edwin raworth was just 17 when he left home to join the royal flying corps. he was a child when the early pioneers of aviation were launching theirfragile machines, and making history. he mayjust have remembered the excitement about frenchman louis bleriot when he landed at dover castle after becoming the first man to fly across the english channel. aeroplanes were here to stay, and within three years they had replaced balloons as a way of keeping an eye on the enemy. my grandfather was an inexperienced teenager when hejoined up, like so
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many of the early wartime pilots. the pilots of world war i came from all sorts of different branches of the armed forces. they came from the army, they came from the navy, and they came in search of a new life with the royal flying corps, so they came for an escape from the claustrophobia and the mud of the trenches and they wanted to embrace the new field of aviation that was so exciting to these young idealistic men. and they were very, very young, weren't they? incredibly young, yes. they were around their sort of early to mid 205. although i know that your grandfather cut the rules a little bit and entered at the age of 17. but they were incredibly young and in a lot of cases very underqualified to be flying the aircraft that they were. some of those early planes have survived
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and are kept here at the raf museum in north london. around and above me were creations of wood and wire, that made you wonder how they stayed in the air. these planes are beautiful, aren't they? yes, they're marvellous things. they're amazing survivors and just over here we have a b2. which is what my grandmother flew. exactly, that's exactly the type of thing. and the construction is amazing. it's a wooden frame around which is stretched the irish linen and you can hear it's tight and it's also been lacquered with... so it's linen? it's linen, linen fabric that's been covered with dope to keep it airtight and it's almost like plastic, the way it's been done. it looks so fragile, so flimsy. that's right. early construction techniques were kind of a bit of trial and error. the whole thing, the wings are braced in shape with piano wires.
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piano wires? so, factories that would produce things like that would also be urged to make aircraft, make things for the war effort so those factory workers would do that. it was so new, wasn't it? manned flight was... 1908 in britain. the first manned flight, 1908 in britain, and these guys are going up 1916, 1917, so less than a decade later. that's right, that's it. my grandfather started off in reconnaissance, so he was flying over france, taking images of the battlefields from a plane like that. yes, that's right. they didn't have parachutes either, did they? no parachutes at all. the authorities would consider that if you're in danger, if your aircraft was damaged and you were a bit scared about that you might just take to the parachute and leave. the other theory that goes with that is of course that parachutes were enormous in those days. there was no where to put them inside the plane and there wasn't really anywhere to hook them on the side.
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just terrifying, terrifying. absolutely. you do wonder how frightened they must have been or did they just take it in their stride? yeah, i think because these machines were all that there was, and in many cases much better than being in the trenches. yes, absolutely. really tough. it wouldn't have been long before edwin raworth had a taste of what lay ahead of him. his first clothing issue was a clue to life in the cockpit. so, is this the kind of stuff that they would've worn? this is exactly what they would've worn, they would've worn this over their uniforms, but that's not sufficient to keep them warm because they're in subzero temperatures and this is the clothing that you need to survive. your grandfather would've had to put this all on and he would've had help with that. can i touch it? yes, you certainly can. there's some goggles. goggles, look at that with all the fur! and they protect you
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from extreme cold, from the wind created by the propeller. yeah. there's a helmet. that's hardly a helmet, is it? it's just a covering. yes, itjust excludes some of the noise of the engine, cuts out some of the extreme cold and that's100 years old now. here we have a sidcot suit which was first issued in 1917, they would've had to go to a department store to buy these and... regent street? regent street, yes. robinson and cleaver was one of the shops near piccadilly. they're really heavy. very heavy, quilted, lots of layers, lots of stepping. and then gloves as well, not dissimilar to what raf crews had to wear nowadays. you wear a silk glove to keep the sweat off, to stop it from freezing and you might wear a woollen glove. leather on the fingers so you can still control your plane, and all of this sheepskin, in this case, traps the heat, keeps the cold air out. my grandfather joined hundreds of cadets full of of youthful enthusiasm, some from
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far beyond the uk. harry o'hara had travelled around the world from japan to do his bit for the allies. he heard about the war and he heard about england and he decided to join up too. he fought in the trenches. he had 70 wounds in all, because afterwards they said it was a miracle that he was still going on and wanting to go on and not giving up. he hears about this flying and he insists he wants to fly. and they took him on, but as a mechanic because it was the start of this flying business. but he was very, very good. very, very good.
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the girls who were there, secretary or whatever, they kept on saying, "i want to go too." so he said, "all right, come on. come with me." so she got in the back and he flew up and then he said he suddenly stalled the engine and he said, "come on, come and kiss me now." and she started yelling. so he brought the plane down quickly and landed. but pilots were so inexperienced that many never even made it to france. training squadrons reported at least one cadet killed in a crash every day. unfortunately in a lot of cases, a lot of them felt they were handed a manual, sent up and were ready to go but of course they really weren't. in the first years, a lot of the casualties sustained were in training itself.
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we know that about 8000 men perished within the first 15 hours of training, considering that about 16,000 died overall in the war of british airmen, it was an incredible percentage that struggled in those early years. incredible. so, so many people died just in the training alone. just in the training, yeah. wow. edwin raworth had to learn quickly. his service record shows him training on different aircraft at bases around the uk. six months afterjoining up, he wasjudged ready for front—line service. this is the pilot's ready room, it's where these young men would have come and tried to get sleep orjust sat around waiting for their next mission, and it's extraordinary to think that my grandfather would've come into a place like this. he was so young, he was 17, 18 years old, and it does make me wonder whether he
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was frightened or not. because the reality was that it was only a matter of days for most pilots before they were either killed or injured. the restored first world war aerodrome at stone maries in essex is one of the last places where you can still get a real sense of life in the royal flying corps. there's certain things that resonate today, but the bravery, that doesn't change. ian flint is in charge of the restoration work. the sort of calibre that these men were, it really cannot be understated. i mean, they really were the cavaliers. cavaliers, nothing less. they had to put their own personal safety completely out of their mind, because if you thought about personal safety, you wouldn't even get in one. it's that simple. so, the be2e, i mean, that is the plane that my grandfather flew,
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what would it have been like for him? terrifying. there's no other word for it, terrifying. yes, you're in a two seater but there were no comms, there was no radio between you and the pilot, you were shouting at each other, banging each other on the head to try and gain attention. you're freezing, terrified. there is oil because you're in the front, oil is being blown directly into your face off the engine. you're flying in a balsa frame wrapped in linen that has got no armour in it. and if you look at the journals and diaries, it is all the same and it's something that is echoed by military and aviation combatants the world over. anyone who says they were not terrified is either crazy or lying. as a trainee bomber pilot, my grandfather had a better chance of survival than the men who became known as the suicide squad. exhausted and living on their nerves, most fighter pilots lasted less than a month. and gently pull the joystick back towards you now.
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0h! this is absolutely extraordinary. more. i'm going to crash. no, you're not. you can look around, you can lean out the side. this was as close to combat as i could get. don't fly in a straight line, always weave, always look over your shoulder. don't get fixated... denis stretton has built a simulator based on those actually used in 1916. keep it in sight. right, 0k. just above, that is it. this is utterly extraordinary. i cannot even... i mean, i could be in the air. it is so realistic. definitely. yeah, pull hard back as much back as you can and that will tighten the turn. you see how tight you're going now? yeah, can i shoot it now? now start levelling off. start shooting it now. look where the bullets are going, nose down and that is where you need to lead the target. nearly! but you need... actually, that is not bad at all. i cannot imagine being a pilot in one of these.
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i can see already how difficult it is. i have obviously read and heard so much about what my grandfather did, and he was so young when he did it, but to sit in that and to have such a real experience of what it must be like is actually rather moving. i mean, i can't believe he did it. i cannot believe he had to do this. a handful of pilots did manage to extend their lives with a mixture of bravery and bravado. these were the aces, responsible for shooting down dozens of their opponents. the most successful of all was a german, manfred von richthofen, the red baron. look at that. and here we've got, so, that's one of the very early german planes, isn't it? donat von richthofen is the baron's great—nephew. so, how did your uncle begin
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in the war, what was he doing at the start of world war i? he began with the cavalry and afterwards he went to the luftwaffe. he became a pilot in 1915? 15, 16, about this. i've forgotten. and he was very young. he was very young, because he died a few days before his 26th birthday on the beginning of may. he was, of course, the most famous pilot in world war i. he had 80 kills... 80 kills, basically. he killed... no, no. he shot down the aeroplanes, but not every pilot was dead, many were landing. afterwards in the evening
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there was drinking in the casino. there was drinking in a casino? yes, with englishmen. really? yes. there was only a fight between two persons, not like today where nobody sees you, or who shot down. he was an extraordinary pilot. he shot down 80 aircraft, but then one day he... he was finished. he was shot from the earth and then he fell down with his aeroplane and then the soldiers came and took everything off his aeroplane. the soldiers did? because he was so famous, wasn't he? yes, and therefore they gave him a... they gave them a formal military burial, the enemy buried him? amazing. he was really revered, he was really respected. incredible, what an incredible man.
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edwin raworth would have seen the horrors of air warfare for himself. 111,000 allied pilots died in the daily battles above the trenches. thousands more suffered burns or horrific injuries. once again, my grandfather was lucky. when his aircraft crashed after a photographing mission in may of 1918, he and his pilot walked away with only minor injuries. i was beginning to get a much better picture of edwin raworth‘s experiences, and those of the young men who lived and died around him. a fellow bomber pilot, captain w ejohns, used his experiences to create the fictional character biggles that went on to be read by generations of children. biggles' stories were
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serialised in modern boy. these are two modern boy covers. this is a complete collection of first edition biggles books. roger harris has collected every single one of we ejohns‘ books and articles. this is actually signed by w e johns. his plane was hit by anti—aircraft fire. it burst the petrol tank, he dropped out of formation, he was set upon by german planes, shot down under a hail of bullets, his rear gunner was killed. all of those experiences, the terror of that, he can put into his novels, because he knows what it feels like to be shot down some 20,000 feet. in fact, there's a book called the first of the many by alan morris where he pays tribute to him, captain w e johns, and he says the nation owes him a great debt for his biggles books, which encouraged thousands of people to join
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the auxiliary air force and the raf voluntary reserve and of course in the 305, we needed pilots by 1939. hello. good morning. this is my father. richard, jenny. wow, here you are, here's the plane. more than 100 years after my grandfather flew for the first time, i was about to get a sense of what it would've been like. wow. this is a be2. a replica, it isn't 100 years old, is it? not nearly as old as that. the great war display team restore and fly aircraft from the period. designed to be stable and very slow, so they can photograph down on the trenches
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and it was actually produced quite successfully all the way through the war. no means of self—defense. so it was cannon fodder but they were out there to take photographs. to take photographs, yeah. and what's it like to fly in? you'll find it very interesting. interesting? dad, what is it like seeing this plane? your father flew in this. extraordinary that he flew in one of those, and in combat as well. 0k, it is time to go flying, sophie. all right. i'm taking my grandfather's lucky mascot with me. oh, the lucky black cat, go on, then. this cat has not been in the air for 100 years. music.
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i never met my grandfather, but forjust a moment i suddenly felt very close to him. a frightened teenager in the skies above france, and i started to understand why he rarely shared his wartime memories. thank you. that was just extraordinary. that was incredible. i was actually really nervous about going up in that, but that was incredible. wonderful, really wonderful. you took off so quickly, you disappeared. i couldn't even get the lens on.
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my dad would've been really so proud of you. do you think so? i do. aww. amazing. edwin raworth was still flying bombing missions in france when the war ended in november 1918. by then the royal flying corps and the royal naval air service had combined to form the new royal air force. but my grandfather had had enough. three years after world war i, he said his goodbyes, slipped back into civilian life and raised a family. but the experience stayed with him for the rest of his life. my grandfather captain edwin raworth left the new raf in 1921. until now, all i've had is a photograph of him
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with one of his aeroplanes and his lucky black cat, but i really feel now that i've got a much better sense of what he must have been through as a teenager. the fear he must have felt, the horror of it all, and it does explain why he never talked about it to anyone. and he never got in an aeroplane again. hello there. if you are crossing your fingers hello there. if you are crossing yourfingers for a bit hello there. if you are crossing your fingers for a bit of rain for the garden, you might be disappointed. things are looking dry
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in most parts of the country. if you like your weather hot and sunny you might be in for a treat because once again sunday looks predominantly dry. lots of strong sunshine on offer and it will be another warm day. cloud across parts of scotland and northern ireland as well, so temperatures here typically in the mid—20s. further south, 25— 30 across england and wales. into sunday evening and overnight, we keep with the dry theme. things cooler across the far north—east of scotla nd cooler across the far north—east of scotland and north—east england does well, but sticky and humid conditions elsewhere with some of us seem temperatures are lower than 18 overnight. monday is another dry day again. lots of sunshine and a little bit of cloud here and there. a touch of cloud along the eastern coast. top temperatures on monday not quite as hot as the weekend, highs in the region of around 18— 20. goodbye. this is bbc news. i'm nkem ifejika. our top stories: at the world cup, the hosts russia are out. croatia and england go through to the semi—finals. north korea warns that
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denuclearisation could be off if the us continues to insist on a one—sided process. the warning comesjust hours after us secretary of state mike pompeo flew out of pyongyang, having given a very different account of the meeting. it appears rescuers in thailand are planning to bring the trapped boys out of the flooded caves earlier than thought.
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